There is no denying that the Toyota Camry is one of the most successful D segment vehicles in Malaysia. Based on Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) statistics for the month of October 2011 (sorry, try as I might, I couldn’t find a more up-to-date figure) shows there has been a total of 6,679 units finding new homes last year. It outsells the 2nd most-sold D segment by 2,621 units ….the Honda Accord needs to improve their sales by another 65% if they hope to usurp Camry’s position as the leader in this segment. It’s quite understandable since the Camry offers a driving package that’s different from Accords, Teanas, Sonatas and Mazda 6s) …. comfort, reliability, durability, strong branding, easy to maintain and excellent resale value. Buying any other car in a traditional, stereotype chinese family may earn you scorn, pity and disgust, almost as if you’ve just been cheated your entire life’s saving in a Get-Rich-Scheme that has gone bust. So, to be SAFE (that is, from the criticism of family members), the next generation buys a Camry and the cycle continues on ….
Things are about to change with the introduction of this:
The new B7 Passat was launched in 19 October 2011 for RM184,888. Subsequently, the CKD version was introduced in 12 March 2012 for RM170,888. At this price scale, it’s cheaper than what other Japanese D segment contenders and definitely lower than the new 2012 Camry 2.5V spec model due to be launched soon with an asking price of RM183,000.
So what sort of package does the Passat offer?
Resale value? Unknown but seeing how VWs are pretty resilient against low RV, I’d say Check
Branding? I think most agree VW sits on a more premium bracket compared to Toyota. Check
Maintenance? Continental parts generally costs more but lasts longer than their Jap counterparts so it breaks-even. Check
So for the first time, you have a car that offers the space and all other practical and emotional baggage associated to buying a Camry. But that’s not all. Aside from being a continental car having Volkswagen DNA which means a far more rewarding driving experience, the Passat has a few additional features that trumps the Camry:
I recently went for a test drive with a friend who’s more than 6 feet in height. After adjusting the front driver seat, I still have at least 3 inches of rear legroom (and I’m not exactly short either). Camry, with its longer wheelbase may offer similar, if not better rear legroom, especially if Toyota designs the front seats to be thinner.
Rear aircon vents with A/C charger port …. my iPod/iPhone will never run out of juice
I love the headrest. The piece slides forward to offer a more comfortable driving position for different driving postures.
Even the rear cup holders slide out with style
As benefit of its class, it comes with Dual Zone climate control, an RCD510 touchscreen headunit and a classy analog clock below the aircon vents. Also with the Passat, you get one of the most advance gearbox to date: the DSG compared to a conventional 6 speed gearbox in the Camry (well, if it’s any consolation, at least they added 1 addtional gear from the earlier 2.4V model). Acceleration is smooth and you never feel the car running out of breath. The test drive took us on some B roads which allowed us to see how well it tackles corners and how linear is the acceleration. The inherent 1/2 second lag in the DSG is present though but compared to my Golf, I find it more manageable and quicker in engaging gears. Also, no juddering that’s related to engine misfiring when flooring the acceleration from standstill is experienced.
The handling is great, the suspension is fantastic. I was comfortably seated in the rear the first time around despite there being quite a few pot holes along the route we took. The stock suspension is soft and absorbs all the humps and bumps. Yet despite it being soft, body roll is very much contained and there’s something the continentals do about their steering that is far more communicative compared to Japs that makes you feel confident in taking corners at higher speeds. Top speed for the Passat is 220kph which is attainable with good stability. Try exceeding 190kph on a Camry and you’ll feel as though your car is flying off the road.
This is one area that has most buyers up in arms against Toyota. Despite the higher asking price, the Camry 2.5V will come with 4 of these:
The Passat gives you 6 and that curtain airbag picture above, that one that protects side window impact of your kids sitting at the back in the event of a collision is grossly absent.
What’s worse is Toyota took out Vehicle Stability Control, an important safety feature that was present in its 2.4V predecessor. VSC helps prevent wheelslip and loss of traction by reducing engine power and applying brake force to the wheels that need it. Without it, every puddle of water is a potential hazard. More info about how it works can be found in the following link:
Now, some may argue that sensible and safe driving habits ensures the VSC is never used. My argument is, an accident is an accident because it is unforeseen, unplanned. Aside from driving in the wet, a myriad of things that can happen in the car that may take your attention away from the road for a split second (such as your child suddenly screams demanding your attention) and there is a truck stopped right in front of you when you look forward again. The thing is, VSC or ESP or VSA or any form of stability control that increases your chances in avoiding or surviving an accident should never be omitted from a car, especially for a car with such a high asking price. No such issue with the Passat as it comes with an array of active and passive safety features such as Electronic Differential Lock, ABS, Engine Drag Torque Control and Traction Control System. I did a 100kph emergency brake and was very impressed with its braking capabilities. Usually in this situation, the front of the car dives severely and dip it did but in a very controlled manner and the stopping distance is impressively short. Everyone who tests cars should do this test, hopefully they would never need to do it but it’s good to know if it is required, what allowance you have in stopping the car.
Boot size is enormous. There is great depth and rear seats can be conveniently folded back by pulling the levers found on the boot top.
The Passat also comes with convenience features such as auto headlight, leaving-home and coming-home light, bi-xenon headlights with integrated DRL, dynamic headlight range and dynamic bending light, auto dimming driver side mirror and rear view mirror, rain sensors, rear fog lights.cruise control, dual zone auto climate control,
There are features that are missing when compared to other Volkswagen models such as electric folding side mirrors, kerb view left side mirror and full electric seats (one point for the Camry which gives full electric seats). It’s the absence of these minor conveniences that compromises the Passat’s luxuriousness a little.
At the end of the day, it only comes down to looks, which is highly subjective. The Passat’s look may not appeal to everyone (same goes for any car, for that matter) but to the business owner who wants to leave and arrive at his/her destination in style and creating an impression of who’s-the-boss, I think the Passat can fulfill this function just as well.
Here’s some spec comparison between the Camry and Passat:-
So really, what’s your excuse for buying the all new Camry when you’ve got the Passat?
I would be most honored and grateful if you could visit https://www.facebook.com/Kensomuse and Like the page to show your support and receive updates on the latest articles. Comments are most welcomed. Thank you very much!